Funding for Waivered Services ~ Let’s mend
our broken promises
It was heartwarming to see Michael Young featured in a recent column in the Star Tribune (March 19, 2007), just as it was to see Michael’s election as Jefferson High School homecoming king was two years ago. Michael was a parishioner at my former church. A lead usher and an extraordinary human being. I have witnessed his magic with people at church, at camp and on the ball fields. I was thrilled that the Jefferson basketball team would affirm his contributions and personhood in their attendance at his ballgame.
But I have some concerns. Minnesota began to open group homes in the 1970s, and was a leader nationally in helping people with disabilities to become full and participating members of our community. In the 1980s, Minnesota began to offer community living in smaller homes to people with disabilities to provide an opportunity for them to live as most Minnesotans do. In 2003 state budget cuts were made and counties were not given enough funding to continue providing waivered services.
Funding for group homes was stopped except for emergency situations. The promises made to people with disabilities, like Michael, were broken. What is at stake? A society’s heart can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable. I urge legislators to secure the future of Michael and others by giving them the opportunity to reach the highest level of independence and be a full part of our wonderful Minnesota community.
Bishop Craig Johnson ~ Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America